San Mateo parents are urging caution among friends and colleagues following a pair of suspicious events in the past two weeks along the Peninsula in which two men tried to convince young children to get in their vehicle.
As Menlo Park and Hillsborough police investigate similar events that happened eight days apart, parents from Highlands Elementary School in San Mateo are encouraging local residents to be vigilant.
The first incident occurred on May 14 in Menlo Park, when two men in a white van approached an 11-year-old girl at the intersection of University Drive and Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park Sergeant William A. Dixon said.
The girl told police that one of the men got out of the van and talked to her, but she continued on her way toward Hillview Middle School, and the van drove away. In response, Menlo Park police increased their patrols around local schools.
Eight days later, two men approached a 9-year-old boy outside his house in Hillsborough near Highway 280 just before 4 p.m. It was originally reported that the vehicle was again a white van, but a police spokesperson said further investigations have identified the vehicle as a light brown or tan sport utility vehicle, similar to a Ford Explorer, with three windows. Police said the
vehicle had a partial license plate number of 173. No other details of the vehicle were available.
The men in the SUV were both white males in their late 20s. The driver had blond “puffy” hair and the passenger had brown spiked hair. Both were believed to have been wearing gray shirts.
The vehicle left the scene and headed east after the boy refused offers of a ride or candy.
Highlands Elementary School parent Susan Solomon said she talked to her second- and fourth-grade children about what they would do if approached, and said she plans to talk with them more about safety.
She added that she was considering buying cell phones so she can reach her children when they’re at school or sports practices.
The Menlo Park Police Department is asking anyone with information to call (650) 330-6300. Hillsborough police can be reached at (650) 375-7470.